I found this odd photo and colorized the crap out of it. This is your brain on drugs reading AELEOPE written on beer and posted on coffee. This is what it means to be a hippy for the uninitiated who have unintentionally stumbled into my pleasant perspicacity by fate of click . This is one of those utopian "far-out" fantasies depicted in pictoral perdition. This is perfect perfidy. This is a spoof by a goof. This is me and a friend inside a large, rusty, utility tank laying on its side getting our pictures taken.
And then I pressed for the purple and green hue button.
And got it.
All this to say something simple. All of this to say something basic. In perfect psychedelic tradition, I have turned a simple thought, into a blacklight peacock.
I have never been a hippy, but I fit in.
Not only do I fit in, I gravitate to hippydom the way a magnet finds its iron. By unseen forces. And with a subtle "clink".
And this has been happening for as long as I can remember.
Around twelve, we had a group of hippies toss up a tent up behind our house. They were living out of a station wagon, and starting fires when they shouldn't have been, in the early summer. They all wore colorful clothes and headbands or braids and frilly-silly leather and one played guitar and a chick played tamborine with kazoos all around. My guess is that they were wealthy kids up from Marin after watching "Hair" for the fifteenth time, but I don't really know. What I do know is that "clink", I was attracted to them and I snuck them food from our kitchen (Oreos and milk) and sat in a painful cross-legged posture listening to them talk their hippy talk and sing their hippy songs and everything seemed so NORMAL and free-spirited and natural-- though I never felt like joining them.
They were hippies and I wasn't. And I had no plans to become one. Not me. Nossiree...
Pops was off flying and commuting from Miami so he wasn't around much. Mum was dealing with Pops not being around much and a nursing job. She probably would have forbade me to head out our back fence in the late afternoon by myself-- at twelve-- heading up to watch a group of dirty young adults pass around a joint or two, sing Bob Dylan songs and try to talk like Arlo Guthrie.I'm sure of it. Mum was cool but she was CAREFUL and a Mum. You know what I am saying... But she didn't find out for a few weeks, and when she did, she got my brother Steve to whistle, and I came home.
I didn't really learn much from this crowd. As I recall, they were more about the act of being hippies than anything else. The girls flashed their boobs at me to make me blush and stammer. The guys tried to get me stoned but I refused, and they seemed OK with that. After all, I brought them Oreos and milk.
And this phenomenon continued to occur. "Clink"... I was connected again. A friend of a friend took me up to a Christmas tree farm to meet some friends of his. At sixteen, I was in a barn in the back of the farm, dancing with girls with hairy armpits and no shoes, and tie-dyed swirls around their unsupported breasts. This group called themselves Grateful Deadheads, and they taught me to spin until I went out side and experienced feedback. They knew all the words to all of the songs they played on a very expensive looking music system. Once again, I got the feeling I was looking at money in hiding. Colorful youth making every effort to avoid the pitfalls of their wealthy parents. But I went back for a few weeks and learned a few things. Like all the words, to "Sugar Magnolia"...
In my twenties, I was riding a bicycle through the Daintree Rainforest in Australia. I had met a Canadian hippy who was also on a bicycle, and we rode on a dirt road under the full moon. The Daintree Rainforest road had been a bone of contention between the Queensland loggers and the Queensland "Enviro's", (the ones we call the "tree huggers" or "greenies" in Oregon.) Under protest, bulldozers had widened and swathed out a bigger dirt track, designed to get trucks and tourists in, and trees (I imagine) out. The newly cut road was extremely soft and powdery. My Canadian riding partner and I had trouble keeping ourselves from burying our front wheels and just falling over. We rode at night to hide from the tropical heat, but we suffered the spills from unseen rocks and ruts, and powdery dirt that choked you when you kicked it up as you fell...
Did you know that in the eighties, in an old Chinese-planted mango grove way up in the Daintree, hippies gathered in large numbers and did hippy things? I didn't either. But they did. They called it "The Mango Festival", and I am not sure what hippies have to do with mangos, but in this case it seemed like a good idea for a gathering where strenuous amounts of drugs were taken and a giant stone hot-tub was filled with naked people and heated with water that passed through a fire. There were guitars all over, and tents and people sprawled out on psychedelic blankets and bedspreads stolen from hotels and a huge assortment of bags and purses all made in India or Bali or Indonesia or Thailand.
I was planning on riding the entire length of the road and heading up as far north as I had the energy and food, but I got swept up in the mango festival the way a pile of iron gets swept up by a magnet --"clickity click"-- and I spent four days wandering around with my short hair and American accent sitting in on every circle that gathered to swap stories or sing or "chill" or pass a joint or let body parts fall out from loose fitting clothing...
I can't smoke pot because it puts me to sleep. I learned that early in my life, and so when you hear about pot being passed, assume I said "no thank you'. I mean, I am asleep within five minutes of smoking even mild pot, and I don't wake up for seven or eight hours. So no. No pot for me. Which makes many think I am a narc. Short-haired foreign dude who won't partake? Can he be trusted?
Bandana. I learned how to fit in by putting on a colorful bandana tied JUST SO and being an all around cool and mildly quiet dude. If you sit and smile and don't interrupt the flow of drug induced ramblings and singing and storytelling, you fit right in. It's that simple.You become part of the color parade. The psychedelic peacocking. The SCENE.
So for four days in the rainforests of northern Australia, I tripped around with Australia's hippy class. I heard good poetry and bad, saw beautiful naked women and some that made me turn away... I learned that I can't play the didgeredoo, but I heard it played skillfully by red-haired guys with freckles. I slept under the stars and bathed in the streams. I rope swung out into pools of water where I saw six inch bugs floating on its surface, and I ate the proffered food of others. When the festival was over, I gathered my stuff into my bicycle panniers and heading off up the road again. The four days a blurry, happy memory now. Like a hippy dream...
In Thailand I was of course saturated with hippies still trying to live out the seventies in their minds by hanging out in Thailand in the eighties. Koh Samui was still a hippy enclave and secret spot when I first arrived, but the word was getting out. Euros were making the connection and getting to the island. German boys were bringing their Thai hookers from the border towns and Bangkok, and settling down. Someday, I will tell you of my two month stay on Koh Samui. The first stay. The one where the island still felt like paradise. But not tonight. I was just trying to tell you that I rubbed elbows with a hippy class of people. And I felt at home the way a magnet feels at home on the side of your refrigerator.
Many years later, as I approached the thirty-somethings, I met Bruce. This is Bruce in the picture. Bruce was a hippy carpenter who had come down from Oregon to help me remodel a kitchen for some mutual friends of ours, who I had met through a hippy chick who made futons for a living, and who Bruce had known since they all fled LA. These were all gainfully employed and responsible hippies. Long-haired engineers and dental hygienist with hairy armpits. They had a beautiful piece of land on a ridge, and they were fixing up their house. That's where Bruce and I came in. That's where we met. Bruce took me to the Saline Valley for the first time when we had finished the kitchen. It was Thanksgiving. The place was full of hippies. We stayed a week and did hippy things. We soaked naked in hot tubs under the stars. We told stories. Sang songs. Lit candles and ate lots of bean dishes. There were guys who had amazing converted buses there. They all seemed to be regulars and well known. They all had exceptionally long penises and leathery skin. They all had names that started with "Bus", like "Bus Mike" and "Bus Bob", and "Bus Burly Dan". The insides of their buses had waterbeds and woodstoves and bear skin rugs and cool burl tables and stained glass in some of the windows. You felt like you were in a how-to hippy book. The smell of incense made you pleased...
I got asked to do a remodel for another friend of a friend a few years later. Could I convert a garage into a small rental space? A loft and a kitchen and a bathroom and a small living area? Sure. No problem. It turned out it was for a guy getting out of jail. He had been busted for trafficking a bit too much pot (300pouunds) and had delayed doing time for a few years and then finally went in and did 18 months in Chicago. Not a pretty eighteen months, he told me. Not pretty at all. This actually led to a job with the Grateful Dead, the pinnacle hippy scene still left standing, which was going mighty strong in the nineties and packing in stadium after stadium with tie-dye and folks, it seems, I'd known all my life. I was getting all the backstage passes I wanted, and it was hard not to take devoted followers of the band to shows and treat them to back stage views and VIP seating. For awhile, there, I was getting to know all the words myself. I'd love to tell you about all of this, but I feel a special need to protect those who trusted me. Let's just say, this immersion into hippyville was not my last, though I met some pretty fascinating folk, and heard some pretty fascinating tales.
Mum played folk music when I was a kid. She sang in a beautiful folk voice and had many fringe hippy friends who were really just musicians in colorful clothes. A friend of a friend asked if I'd go look at a stage that sat in a vineyard just outside of Occidental, California. It had been built by hippies and who knows what condition it was in. This guys name was Cloud, and if that ain't a hippy name, then his hair wasn't long. It was. But Cloud had a drive and a vision. He was going to put on a music festival called the Kate Wolf Memorial Music festival. It was to be in honor of the deceaased Kate Wolf. She was a folks singer/songwriter who had been to our house once when I was a kid. I learned that later on. I said I would help out in exchange for tickets. I would give them to my Mum, and to friends who were music lovers but poor. I rebuilt the stage, added a wing to it, built platforms for large speakers and helped erect poles for shade cloth. The festival was small, but a success. Mum loved being there. My friends were all happy as hippies to be there. I was happy to have helped. The next year, I was asked to help again. This time, the festival had doubled in size. More work was needed. More fencing, parking, logistics, backstage area and basic site work. I don't know how, but I started bossing people around. The festival was a success, the music wonderful, my Mum and my friends all had a great time, and I was happy to have helped. The next year I was asked to be the site manager, to do what I did the year before only with an official title, and I said no.
I said I wanted to be the "Outta Site Manager" and this was agreed upon by all parties. I still have the shirt I was given. I have showed this to you already, if you had been paying attention.
Hippies love the Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival. It got so big it got moved to Wavy Gravy's ranch. Now THERE is an old hippy with a ranch full of hippies. For those of you who don't know, he was an original MC at Woodstock. He was the one who said "What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for a hundred thousand people." I actually don't remember the number of people he actually stated. Maybe it was more?
And now I am working with a group of hippy carpenters, sometimes in a valley full of hippies called Takilma.
And I'm not a hippy, and have never been...